We hope you enjoy your stay at the murder hotel. #TheDevilinMe now available on PlayStation, Xbox and PC: https://t.co/5dg8WU4mj0
Your death is his design. @TheDarkPictures pic.twitter.com/aehXwDS27Q
— Supermassive Games (@SuperMGames) November 18, 2022
The Devil in Me is the fourth and final episode for the debut season of The Dark Pictures Anthology from Until Dawn and The Quarry developer, Supermassive Games. The Dark Pictures Anthology made its debut in 2019 with Man of Medan, followed by Little Hope (2020) and The House of Ashes (2021).
One of the strongest assets to telling a good horror story is the element of surprise. Otherwise, twists would have no meaning and if we knew what was coming, jump scares would be pointless. However, if you’re like me, you’ll still likely jump out of your skin. So, for that reason, I’ll gloss over major story details to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.
The story of The Devil in Me follows the escapades of four documentary filmmakers desperate to make it big in the hope that their latest gig will be their breakthrough moment. So, when director Charles Lonnit gets a mysterious phone call to film a project that is too good to be true, he jumps at the opportunity without a second thought. Sadly, for his film crew, they’re dragged along too. However, in one way or another, they’re seemingly as desperate as the director himself.
What is this too good to be a true opportunity? It’s to record a film in a modern-day replica of a historic hotel that came to be known as “Murder Castle”. The owner of this hotel is said to be the United States’ first known serial killer, H.H Holmes. Oh, and by the way, Dr Henry Howard Holmes aka H.H Holmes was a real serial killer in Chicago. A too-good-to-be-true offer, a location known as “Murder Castle” inspired by an infamous serial killer. What could seriously go wrong?
In terms of gameplay, by now you’ve at the very least probably played one title from Supermassive Games. Otherwise, I doubt you’d be reading this review. So, you’ll know what to expect. Gameplay is slow-paced in terms of character manoeuvrability around the environment and Quick Time Events are plenty. It’s why we have this affection for Supermassive titles and in my opinion, no studio does interactive drama horror better than they do.
However, The Devil in Me does come with quality-of-life improvements evolved from the three previous games in The Dark Pictures Anthology series. The two older titles, Man of Medan and Little Hope have received a free update which brings the gameplay more in line with House of Ashes and The Devil in Me. The free update also included new-gen versions for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Which is a nice bonus.
Anyway, let’s get back to The Devil in Me. The fourth and final release of the debut season includes various quality-of-life improvements over its predecessors. Each of the five playable characters feels a little more responsive than before and they can now move a little faster thanks to the improved sprint implementation.
The characters each have their abilities (so to speak) and access to certain tools which are assigned to the D-Pad. This feature also plays into some of the game’s puzzles, something that was present in previous games. Don’t get me wrong, the puzzles won’t challenge you all that much. However, it does offer a change of pace from time to time.
Obviously, as with prior games from Supermassive, the decisions you make will have an impact on your story. Depending on certain multi-choice decisions or results from QTEs, you can have a different outcome from one playthrough to the next. Everyone can die or everyone can live, the characters’ lives are quite literally in your hands.
Visually, The Devil in Me is a good-looking title, as you would expect from Supermassive Games. However, if you go into this expecting the same kind of visual level as that of The Quarry, you might be a little disappointed. That being said, I suspect that The Quarry, published by 2K might have had a higher budget than The Devil in Me. You will also be offered the choice to favour visuals or performance. Personally, I prefer to favour visuals in this genre of game, as I feel it provides a more cinematic experience. I think this game is better suited at a targeted 30FPS and the visuals will also look a bit crisper with the higher resolution. However, you may feel differently.
So offering more of a fair comparison, while the visuals are still good, they don’t seem to be at the same level as that of House of Ashes (2021). Facial animations look a little odd at times with over-the-top mannerisms, and the lighting and shadow effects don’t appear to be at quite the same standard as the previous entry. Furthermore, I’ve even noticed sections where the lip-sync was very much out of place. Hopefully, as this is a pre-release build, those issues might be ironed out with a post-launch patch.
Dodgy lip-sync aside, as with previous entries, The Devil in Me is supported by a talented voice cast, led by multi-award-winning actress Jessie Buckley who plays Kate Wilder. Another familiar face/voice is English comedian and actor, Paul Kaye. Of course, you will also recognise the faces and voices of the cast from previous episodes of The Dark Pictures Anthology.
What’s more, the audio design is arguably the best in this series yet. Murder Castle is the creepiest, most intense location of The Dark Pictures Anthology. Putting aside fun jump scares, there were moments when I felt genuine unease and dread about what might await me around the next corner. This level of tension is heightened by the sublime sound effects. Murder Castle is creaky, old and mouldy. You can feel its unnerving history with its walls. Furthermore, if you have a decent headset, this is the best way to experience this game.
The Devil in Me also has a good selection of accessibility options that extend beyond the game’s difficulty setting. From fonts, audio cues, QTE timing and more, there’s plenty here that will hopefully aid various abilities. However, from what I can tell, there is no option to remove tinnitus-triggering noises. On numerous occasions in the story, my constant tinnitus was triggered quite often, which wasn’t all that pleasant. Hopefully, this is a feature that Supermassive can patch into the game.
In conclusion, while not perfect, The Devil in Me might just be my favourite game in the series yet. It’s a culmination of previous games in The Dark Pictures Anthology offering little bits of inspiration from each. Speaking of inspiration, horror movies such as Saw and Psycho are prominent as well as 2015s Until Dawn. The Devil in Me provides a bloodshed of suspense, horror and fun. It’s the perfect send-off for season one of The Dark Pictures Anthology.